Monday, April 09, 2007

I cannot tell you the last time we were separated from family on Easter, but yesterday was such a time. We had a great weekend, and a blessed Easter day in spite of this.

Saturday we had lunch with our new pastor and his wife. We had a time of precious fellowship, and shared a great meal. We had one of those times where we left feeling like we had known them all of our lives, though we have only recently started to get acquainted.

Sunday morning, he preached with such power and conviction I was sure the altar would be flooded with people. It wasn't. I think time can get in the way of conviction.

Like many churches, ours has three morning services. This is very taxing to our staff, and yet they carry on without complaint or unmeasured word. We go to the middle service. As such, it is sandwiched between two others, and the time element, I fear, can get in the way of the Lord moving.

There is something unspoken that happens inside of us where we know it is almost over and we need to run to check the roast, or scamper off to Sunday School, go make the coffee for our class that follows, and we just don't allow the Spirit of God to move.

I find myself wondering if the those who come only at Christmas and Easter are bound by this same time constraint. If they are not connected to other people and have no plans to attend anything else after the service, what keeps God's Spirit from moving over them?

I am concerned that it may be the lack of passion for Jesus in our own hearts on Sunday morning. I recently preached a message while on the mission field about our lack of preparation for entering into His presence.

I have found that one cannot enter the church sanctuary in other countries with the same attitude of reckless abandon that we do here. While some would argue that it is legalistic, I find value in entering the sanctuary with reverence and awe. If we expect the Lord to move, and have prepared our hearts to usher Him into our service, and are not talking with loud and boisterous voices, what might happen?

One of the things I teach students while moving in other countries is to do so with "European voices." That means hushed tones. We don't talk so loud that others can hear us, and we do not allow laughter to rise to the place that we become the focal point of others attention. We fight enough negative stereotypes as Americans without perpetuating them.

What would happen if we entered our churches with the same attitude of preparation that the matriarchs in our families prepare Easter dinner with? If we truly spent time on our knees before the service trying to prepare ourselves for His presence, for His movement, would He be more likely to stir the hearts of the lost? If they saw reverent attitudes, would their expectations be different?

My mom would get up early on Easter and begin meal preparations. There was a symphony of foods that needed to be ready at the same time. This could not happen without a servant's heart and attitude. She would make many preparations, including decorations, and would work hard to assure that all was prepared to assure the best possible experience.

In our churches we tend to rush into the service after an unpleasant morning where virtually everyone encountered difficulties on the way in. By the time we arrive, we lack focus and are so distracted that we are not even thinking about Him. The enemy prevails in this battle week after week...and we continue to let him.

We do nothing different to combat it. We see it play out each Sunday morning, and we just expect it rather than praying against it. Truly, it is no wonder that our churches are full of defeated believers. The one day a week that most go to worship, they are defeated before they arrive, and do not even realize the battle is raging.

Unprepared. That is how we enter His courts.

A friend of mine recently began going to church early to pray before the service. He wanted to be ready for the Lord to move. He wants to see the Lord move. He is asking the Lord to move.
He is at the altar on his knees seeking God, while most of us are fussing with each other or our children.

His heart is ready, but most aren't. Unless we don our spiritual armor, and prepare ourselves for battle, especially on Sunday morning, the enemy will continue to have victory, and we will continue to wonder what is wrong with our church.

We need to be reminded that the church is not the building, it is us. WE need to be prepared when we enter His courts to Praise. "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body." 1 Corinthians 6:19-20.



At 9:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

God Bless you, ]
Greenfield, Indiana

At 10:19 AM, Blogger shangjun said...

Hi, i'm just dropping by. i found out about this site after buying Mercy Me's CD - coming up to breathe. i was touched by BJ's story and it made me think about how willing i was to suffer for God's glory.

your post here has inspired me to engage in more preparation before service begins. thank you and God Bless from here in sunny Singapore (:

At 12:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I understand exactly what you are talking about Brent. It's not uncommon to enter into the sanctuary at 11:10 for a an 11:15 service and find the choir 'practicing'. I find that a total distraction from preparing to worship. I've convinced the pastor to allow some CCM to quietly play in the background as worshippers enter from 11 to 11:15 however it happens only about half the time right now. I'm still trying to educate the choir director and the guys that run the sound board. It is indeed a battle. \o/ Christ is Risen!

At 4:18 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Brent, You have touched on a subject that I find totally baffling. I agree with you 100%, but am totally amazed at how worshippers arrive to the church "building" unprepared.
I'm so used to having a prayer meeting prior to the service, to pray for the pastor and his message, to ask that the Holy Spirit would move, etc, etc, and was very dissapointed to see that this is not a normal pracitse here in the US.
Perhaps more of us need to be more hungry for the presence of God, and perhaps request the start of such prayer meetings. Just my 2 cents worth.
Be blessed.

In HIs Love

At 4:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My thoughts and prayers were with you and your family this week. I'm not sure why, but wanted you to know that God placed you on my heart. Have a blessed day.

At 2:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


It's Joe Beck, from the year 1327...give me a call sometime.



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